FORMULA: Lonely Among Us + Return to Tomorrow + Clues
WHY WE LIKE IT: A good, tense mystery.
WHY WE DON'T: The title. The holo-novel.
REVIEW: In psychodynamics, cathexis is defined as the process of investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object, or idea (from Wikipedia). As a special service, I'll be offering definitions for Voyager episodes with glossary-promoting titles. I know Bragga's gone on record saying he does this on purpose to be "educational", but I'd rather the show get some of the science right instead. Such titles read like the authors are showing off, and don't relate very well to the episode ("which one was this?").
Cathexis isn't a bad episode actually. It recycles the "possessed by an alien entity" trope to good effect, creating plenty of paranoia as crew members apparently do things without remembering they have. The mystery is further deepened because there are two "ghosts" at work, one working to lure Voyager into a trap, the other trying to prevent that. The twist is that both seem to be a danger to the ship. The measures taken by the crew are interesting, and the ways the aliens use to counter them give them cold sweats. Is Tuvok, in fact, investigating himself?
One of the aliens, of course, is Chakotay's disembodied consciousness. In the least successful element of the episode, Chakotay returns to the ship brain dead, and yet no one ever gives up hope of "reintegrating" his consciousness into his body even if it's been vampirically sucked out of him. His medicine wheel is an interesting prop, and it's nice to see B'Elanna respect one of her commander's customs.
With Kes feeling Chakotay's vibes, it's really a haunted ship story, so it makes sense to start Janeway's holo-novel in this episode. It's quite clearly a take on Jane Eyre, and aside from the always creepy presence of Carolyn Seymour, isn't something I'm looking forward to. I'm not a big Brontë fan (not even a small one, I should say), but beyond that, I'm not sure what it wants to say about Janeway's character. Knowing in advance it'll be abandonned before coming to a close, it also feels like another missed opportunity for Voyager. Every season could have featured a grand holo-novel and paced itself through that (a bit like the never-seen Alamo program on DS9). Alas...
LESSON: Never give them up for dead.
REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Nice suspense, mystery and paranoia, though perhaps the twists aren't hard to see coming. Good, but rather inconsequential with its invisible enemies.